Getting paid for creating wildly successful stuff can take many forms and is an important part of the creative process. Often stuff that becomes wildly successful (like the Superman comic and the game Twister) start out as humble creative endeavors created by two co-creators. For example:
- SUPERMAN was created by Seigel and Schuster who created a comic book out of four weeks worth of comic strips that they couldn’t sell. They sold the comic book along with their rights to the creation for $130. (long-running litigation has ensued regarding the existence, validity and scope of an agreement transferring the rights to Superman).
- TWISTER was created by Foley (a game designer) and Rabens (an artist) who were awarded a US Patent (No. 3,454,279) for their invention of an “apparatus for playing a game wherein the players constitute the game pieces.” Evidently Foley did not receive royalties for the game; however, he did negotiate a buyout and sold his rights. (According to a Mr. Foley’s obituary this past week, he accepted about $27,000 in a negotiated buyout).
It’s interesting to compare these deals. Did the creators have any idea that their creations would become iconic? Probably not. At least not in the case of Superman. If Superman’s co-creators had known how famous their creation would become, they probably would have negotiated a higher price, residual rights, royalties and possibly reserved merchandising rights.
Personally, I am a big fan of both Superman and Twister! I am in awe of the creative minds who created these gems… and I encourage folks to negotiate creative deals to maximize revenue from their creations. You never know…. your creation could become a cultural icon.
For more information on the ongoing Superman litigation, see also, http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/cacdce/2:2004cv08400/166317/; http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2013/03/superman-legal-battle-isnt-over-yet-siegels-try-a-new-strategy/; http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-06-13/marc-toberoff-supermans-lawyer; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.